It is interview with Aleksandr Palamarchuk – the owner of SANTAN, company one of the leading companies among 391 Ukrainian companies that produce and sell sanitary ware
– 2020 declared itself almost like an apocalyptic crisis. Uncertain and inconsistent government actions, entrepreneur’s confusion, a sharp reduction in the economic sector, and jobs swept all of the countries and caused panic. Mr.Aleksandr, when you are looking back, can you objectively assess your reaction to the risks caused by the pandemic as a person and a leader?
It was a sharp and unexpected hit to our entire economy, to every enterprise, every employee and every family. I will be wrong if I would say that as a director and as a person I didn’t feel anxiety before coming into uncertainty. But the responsibility to my employees, my company, my family prompted me to look for a way out. The adaptation was not easy, because it is always difficult to abandon the familiar and comfortable conditions, to rebuild on a crisis track.
No wonder my motto is “Never give up!”. We suspended work in the office, closed our retail stores, transferred some of our employees to work remotely, and cut costs. We changed strategy, tried different formats, introduced new products and services. Sales were carried out only through our online store. The pandemic has served as an additional impetus for the development of online commerce.
-So maybe such measures were taken by many leaders in the current situation. But not all enterprises and firms remained “afloat.” Maybe you have some secrets of your own that helped you survive?
All the secrets of a successful business have long been known. The first is competent management. I learn all my entrepreneurial activities for successful management, I stimulate my team of managers and even ordinary employees to this. Having gone from a turner to a businessman, I made sure that every employee needs a high level of self-government and self-organization… With the onset of the crisis, we quickly developed a strategy for the crisis period, and such that it would be possible to realize all the resources and capabilities of the company, choosing online sales as the general direction.
After some recession caused by the influence of the pandemic on the psyche of people, the sales volume increased significantly, and exceeded the figures of the pre-crisis months by 8 times! We decided to restructure, focusing on trade through the online store, on expanding sales markets in the virtual field. Retail trade in stores is now open, but you need to be prepared for any crisis turns. Therefore, we are recruiting new employees to the sales and marketing department, updating and modifying the management system. Because companies that have been able to leverage digital technology in the current environment have increased revenues.
– Competent management is the basis and pinnacle of business activities. And the fact that underestimation of the importance of governance is fraught with many miscalculations, we see from the actions of the highest echelons of the Ukrainian government. But there are probably other “pillars” that underlie the success of your company, isn’t it?
Yes, there have always been periods of crisis (remember 2008!). In the modern dynamic and changeable world, they have become more frequent, and in order not to get lost in its labyrinths, one must make efforts, work hard and strive for success. The second condition is the presence of a professional team.
We are very careful in the selection of employees. In several stages, but this is the only way we will be able to understand what abilities and capabilities the applicant has. This creates a reliable and professional team. And it is not formed on the day of the coming of the next crisis period, but constantly in accordance with changing requirements. The old motto “Cadres decide everything” does not become obsolete.
That is why, during this difficult period, we did not fire a single employee. The third condition is also important – an economically profitable investment, especially in partnership and technology projects, innovative business models. Therefore, we are actively developing the IT-company “SANTAN DIGITAl”, whose tasks are the creation and promotion of sites and online stores in the global network. Now we are working on a new format for the marketplace – an electronic platform on which different companies can post information about their products.
– Analyzing the experience of the crisis months, what, in your opinion, needs to be changed within our city and country in order to prevent a new regression in the economy and soften the blows from possible next pandemic waves?
Our economy has gone through many crisis moments lately. For 30 years of my entrepreneurial activity, in addition to world crises, we have experienced the collapse of the Soviet country and its economy, have learned to work in a multi-year hybrid war. But we still do not have well-trained and experienced analysts who would be able to calculate the risks of such situations.
Therefore, there is a need for every entrepreneur to think about the development of anti-crisis measures and the search for their own non-standard solutions. Alternatively, to unite, create anti-crisis funds that would provide support to small and medium-sized businesses and the most vulnerable industries. The countries of the European Union, the United States were able to provide financial support to the economic sector. For example, Germany has allocated 500 billion euros to support businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
– We cannot ignore your charitable work. What prompted you to create a charitable foundation and help those who need it?
You are asking a difficult question to which there is no clear answer. Probably helping people is my position in life. First, there was help to those in need separately – those who found themselves in a difficult life situation, then a Charitable Foundation appeared and supported migrants from the ATO zone, we help children’s hospitals, homes, educational institutions. And I continue to do this to the best of my strength and capabilities.
– Mr.Aleksandr, what would you like to wish to novice businessmen, although it is probably very dangerous to start a new business in times of crisis?
There is always risk, but times of crisis open up new opportunities for decisive and proactive people. The main thing is to find your niche. You can start with a small business, for example, I recently read that two displaced sisters are developing their own business, growing ecologically clean microgreens on a rented plot in the suburbs. They started with a small greenhouse, and now they supply their products to supermarkets and famous restaurants in the city. You can start a business and achieve success at any age. For example, you can create a cool digital product and sell it dearly at 20, or you can, like Henry Ford or Ray Kroc, start your own business (like Ford Motor or McDonald’s) at the age of 40 or 52. It is important to believe in yourself! There are very wise words: “If you are afraid – do not do, if you do – do not be afraid, if you already done – than do not regret!” Go for it, and luck will come to you!
Reference. SANTAN was established on 1997. During 23 years of work on the plumbing market SANTAN has taken a leading position in the Ukrainian market and won the recognition of customers. SANTAN works actively on the wholesale market. SANTAN developed its own distribution network all of Ukraine, and also has 8 successful brand stores: 4 are own shops and 4 are partner’s shops. Also SANTAN offers its own business services.
SANTAN’s product range is about 10 thousand items. It is varied by the prices levels, solutions of design and functionality. Only high quality is invariable. Own warehouses allow maintaining a constant assortment, which is available online.